Warderick Wells Cay is in the heart of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The park was established in 1958 and is maintained by the Bahamas Nation Trust. It is 176 square miles or over 100,000 acres encompassing land and sea. It is a protected area meaning everything humans bring in must also be carried out. The coral reefs are live with abundance of fish and provide incredible snorkeling and diving. There is no fishing allowed anywhere in the park. This is strictly enforced by the patrols. The hiking trails are rugged and wildlife is so unthreatened, animals tend to just stare as people pass. We had to be very careful to not step on small lizards. Even the fish seem unthreatened by the presence of people. Looking out from the hill tops of this island over the other islands included in the park, as far as the eye can see, the only unnatural object is the Park Ranger station. Everything else looks the same today as it did hundred, or even thousands of years ago. And, it is gorgeous!
This island is isolated. There are no people, other than the Park Ranger and other boaters. There is no cell phone service. We ran our cell phone up the mast to see if 67 feet in height made a difference. It didn’t. There is no internet, well sort of. The park office has some internet but we were warned by others that it doesn’t work very well. The service is hit and miss and they do not give refunds. We used our satellite phone and SSB radio for updated weather forecast. I realized when hiking a bad fall would result in a seriously gargantuan rescue experience. The park suggests carrying a portable VHF radio when hiking. When we came upon Murphy’s Hideaway (above), in my younger days I would have climbed down without any thought of danger or consequences. With age has come some wisdom.
On our hike up Boo Boo Hill we passed some blow holes. These holes push air up (and sometimes sea spray if the ocean is rough). The air is pushed as waves enter the maze of caves below the rock forcing the air backward into the cave. They make a very strange sound.
This stop was on my bucket list. Years ago, I read about this park in a magazine (remember those?). I read about the natural beauty and made a promise to myself to someday visit here and place a plaque on Boo Boo Hill. Boo Boo Hill is aptly named as it refers to a haunting by ghosts. It is said these are the ghost of lost souls who perished in a shipwreck many years ago just off Warderick Wells. It is also said during the bloom of a full moon you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns. Well, we didn’t climb the hill at night to find out. I would imagine the sound coming from the blowholes also added to the legend as they do sound a little eerie.
The view from Boo Boo Hill was truly breathtaking. Everything in sight (with the exception of the ranger station building and the yachts) is natural. We are unsure about how the tradition of sailors placing a plaque atop Boo Boo Hill started. But, the tradition has been ongoing for many years. Mementos are left from passing sailors as offerings to the spirits for good weather and to placate the ghosts who inhabit the island. Park rules require any offering to be natural. Driftwood is the preferred token material. Some cruisers have decorated conch shells (yet another use for conch). Cruisers will place a piece of wood on the pile with their vessel name and the year of their visit painted or etched. Some signs are very fancy and are professionally made. I made ours myself. I had packed away a scrap piece of African Mahogany wood before leaving the USA for this stop. Cream Puff’s interior is African Mahogany. However, I was really hoping to find a piece of driftwood somewhere along our journey. It seemed a little more suitable. I got lucky! I found a piece of driftwood while hiking on the beach at White Sound on Great Guana Cay and saved it for this occasion. I spent a day sanding the wood and etched the name of our boat into it using a Dremel. We placed our obnoxiously large plaque atop Boo Boo Hill.
We stayed in this location for fourteen fabulous days. We spent our days hiking and snorkeling. As other boats came and went we saw many take the hike up Boo Boo Hill. When they saw Cream Puff was still here, we were teased (in a nice way) about the size of our sign. This island has been the highlight of the Bahamas, so far.